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Billie-Jean and Vili's story

My husband and I began our fertility journey in March 2015, not thinking we would ever have fertility problems, and before then, we barely knew anything about our fertility. After one year of trying had passed and we had no luck, we started to undergo any necessary tests with the doctors.

On holiday in November 2016, we found out we were pregnant and were over the moon that our prayers had been answered! Unfortunately, at eight weeks, we lost our baby through miscarriage. We had to start all over again.

We continued with multiple tests and continued trying while carrying our hurt and grieving for our lost baby. We were then 'diagnosed' with Unexplained Infertility – This was because we'd both passed all tests, some with 'flying colours' even, but there was no answer as to why we weren't having any luck falling pregnant.

What was once heartbreak from our miscarriage had turned into hope, the only hope we had, that if we had become pregnant naturally once, surely it could happen again?

The hardest thing about having Unexplained Infertility meant we didn't qualify for Public Funding as we had to have been trying for a minimum of five years. This may not be long for some - but it felt/still does feel like a lifetime!!

We tried our best to continue life as normal and not let this fertility journey affect us negatively, weaken us, or worse, affect our relationship.
We were fortunate to buy our first home, and we got married. I couldn't get through the heartache without my husband by my side. We continue to overcome every month obstacle and test together and come out stronger at the other end.

Being told I had to wait five years before getting IVF through funding affected me mentally and emotionally to the point where we WANTED something to be wrong with one of us so that we could A. Have some answer to our frustrations, and B. Then qualify for public funding. Saying that sentence alone is sad!

After multiple tests, specialists thought I had Endometriosis as I was presenting signs. They also said that there were no other procedures or tests to take.
So after now three years of trying, I underwent a laparoscopy to remove any endometriosis. For the first time in a long time, I was happy and felt we were making some progress and going to get some answers. The doctors, my husband, and I hoped they would find some endometrial tissue.

I woke up from the procedure feeling all four incisions across my stomach. It was a great indication tissue was found and removed, so Vili and I both felt hopeful it was a success! The doctor then informed us that although they found endometrial tissue and removed this, it was not in a position that would affect fertility. We have left again without answers, no changes and the worst part, it wasn't enough of a problem to qualify for public funding, STILL.

After three and a half years of trying, we made the call to undergo a cycle of IVF, Privately. This meant getting a loan from the bank on our mortgage. Money didn't matter at this stage for us because we were given hope again. It'd have been a while since we felt this.

In September 2018, we began IVF. This consisted of self-injecting my stomach each day and taking pills, then having scans to track our progress before travelling to Wellington's Fertility Clinic to undergo the process of egg collection, then a secondary procedure of the Embryo transfer. This alone felt like another journey we were on, a scary but exciting (and hormonal, my husband would say) rollercoaster!

Sadly during the process, we had only ONE embryo survive out of seven which meant that our only embryo implanted felt like our only hope, our miracle one, without having a 'back up'. The embryo was implanted on Day 5 and didn't attach. IVF was unsuccessful. We were devastated, and sadly my husband said at the time that he could not go through with that again. Regardless of the physical toll my body had just gone through. We were mentally and emotionally broken.

Now in 2019, I have been pondering over and over different dates and when we could look at trying IVF again, this time publicly because, unfortunately, we could not afford another round privately. I replayed the following dates in my head. I was losing sleep and became depressed at the thought we would continue to have no luck naturally and thinking we might not qualify for public funding until I was 30 years old - which doesn't sound too great medically?
Knowing that my husband wasn't ready to go through IVF. I tried to remain positive and not put that pressure on us emotionally and financially by talking about another IVF round. However, getting a pay rise at work tempted me to give Vili a 'proposal' – We could take out another loan on the mortgage and use the extra pay to cover the repayments. After standing side by side and feeling each other's pain, this small opportunity tempted us to go for it again. We were desperate and agreed we couldn't wait to try again in 2022.

We met with our mortgage broker to get another loan on our home and have recently signed the consent forms to begin our second round of (private) IVF again in November this year. If this one is again unsuccessful, we have to accept the fact sadly. There is a possibility our next IVF may not be for another three years as we're both aware we could not afford to pay for another round privately.

Being labelled 'unexplained' is incredibly hard. Why we're not parents yet? Why can't we conceive again naturally? What's wrong with us?
I never knew how common fertility issues were, and I sure didn't think we would ever have them. Unfortunately, it's not until you're finally ready and the time is right to begin your own family that you discover it's not that easy for some.

I question the criteria for Public Funding and struggle knowing IVF might help us, but it's a matter of making the 'list'. Infertility issues are infertility, regardless if it can be explained or not and not to be given hope and treatment because you either can't afford it or don't meet specific criteria really sucks!

We're grateful for all the support from our Whānau & friends and, of course, couldn't have gotten this far without our love for each other. We feel for all of those going through their infertility journey and can only wish them the absolute best from our hearts to theirs.

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